MANILA: The Philippines Commission on Human Rights vowed to investigate the killing of a criminal suspect shot dead in Manila this week, as anxiety grows over the rising number of deaths tied to the President-elect’s crackdown calls.
Incoming President Rodrigo Duterte scored a landslide win in elections last month after running on a ruthless anti-crime platform, with a spate of recent criminal killings by police spurring fears of a extra-judicial clampdown.
Human Rights Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana vowed to investigate the killing of Alfie Turado, a suspect in a rape and robbery case who was shot dead by police in Manila Friday.
Police say Turado was only shot after attempting to grab the arresting officer’s gun.
“We have to find out if certain rights were violated in the arrest,” Pimentel-Gana told ABS-CBN television in remarks aired Saturday. “And we should see if excessive force was used in this particular case.”
On Friday, national police spokesman Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor defended the use of lethal force, saying that officials would only investigate further if the Turado’s family filed a complaint.
The spokesman added that fears about extra-judicial killings were overblown.
“The reason why the suspects were killed is because they engaged in shootouts (with) law enforcers,” Mayor told reporters.
Duterte, who takes office on June 30, has been accused of running vigilante squads that have killed more than 1,000 suspected criminals in the southern city of Davao where he has been the long-time mayor.
Following Duterte’s victory, officials across the archipelago have launched their own crackdowns, parading suspects through the streets and rounding up street children en masse.
In the central city of Cebu, incoming Mayor Tomas Osmeña has offered bounties to policemen who kill suspects tied to the drug trade.
One such suspect hailing from Cebu, Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz, was shot dead along with a companion in Manila late Friday during a gunfight with police.
Osmena hailed the death on his Facebook page, saying “Cebu’s top drug lord, Jaguar is dead,” but made no mention of paying any bounties.
After the incident Senior Superintendent Jemar Modequillo denied that a potential payday led to the killing, saying “we don’t do rub-outs.”
An assault rifle and a pistol were seized from the slain men, he told Agence France-Presse. AFP